His hair is lighter, streaked with grey and hanging in his face without a care, but it's him. You can feel it and you know it for sure when the woman by his side leans in for a quick peck on the cheek and you can read his name on her lips. That beautiful name that you once whispered in the dark, on those precious nights where all that existed in your world was him and you were all he knew. You were home.
It was the time of your life.
You are too far to see the hazel of his eyes clearly, but you know they are the same. You can't recall all the times you stared into those same eyes and found adoration staring back at you. You were happy, you were both happy. Happy and in love, holding each other so tightly that the rest of the world disappeared and you were the only two that mattered. Before you went off to live out your destiny and he stayed here to fulfill his.
You haven't been that happy in a long time.
His wife is beautiful. You expected no less, of course, but just the sight of her is enough to make your heart start hurting. Her mere presence is the final nail in the coffin, the final push to get you to understand. It's over for you and him. It's been over for years, nearly ten years, God, has it been that long? And yet it has, and he has her and you have no one. They've been together longer than you and him ever were and yet it feels as if she is still something temporary, a means to an end to lead him in your direction again. But you know that won't happen. It's over for him.
You're not sure if it's ever been over for you.
You watch as he picks up the small infant out of the car seat and cradles the pink blanket with gentle care. You can't see the face, but you can imagine the chubby cheeks as his fingers run through a thick head of dark brown hair. The smile on his face is blinding and yet you can't bring yourself to look away. His happiness still means everything to you, even after all this time.
Once upon a time, in another world, in another lifetime, that might have been your child. It would have been your flesh and your blood, and his flesh and his blood, and she would have been yours. His. Ours. But she's not and it's never been more painfully clear than when his wife moves to his side and places a soft kiss to the small head of curly hair.
You didn't think it would hurt this bad.
Weddings have always been a joyous occasion to you, even more so when it's between two people you love as if they were family. You traveled the long miles to be here, back in Lima, to watch as two of your best friends pledged their lives to one another and yet you have not even approached them. You are too entranced by him, and it's cliche and stupid, but you wish he wouldn't have come. He had to have known that you would be here, after all you had talked about it on your twitter page for weeks, your hundreds of thousands of followers had been buzzing about it for weeks and it had even made the top of the travel section of The New York Times website. That's what happens when you're famous. Normal people pay attention to celebrities.
But he had never been normal and so it should have been no surprise to you that when his eyes finally locked onto yours that surprise was the first emotion on his face. You give a small wave, certain that you can hear your heartbeat pounding in your ears, and he waves the baby's tiny fist at you and you have to stifle a sob. He smiles slightly, gives you a quick nod, and turns to sit down next to his wife, the squirming bundle of joy in his arms.
He doesn't look at you again.
You take a seat in the back, on a pew where no one else has chosen to sit as the music starts up and the wedding party takes their places. You watch as the bride glides down the aisle to her wheelchair bound groom and you push aside thoughts of him and smile brightly at the happy couple as they roll back down the aisle, the cheers of their friends in your ears, so loud that it hurts. It hurts.
The reception is lovely from where you sit, sandwiched in between Mercedes on your left and Kurt's empty chair on your right. Blaine is just one chair down from you, stuffing cake down his throat like he hasn't eaten any in a year. Which, knowing his husband's reluctance to sweets, is probably true. You poke at the ivory wedding cake on your plate with your fork. It's delicious, but you can't find it in you to take another bite. The chair to your right shifts and your friend sits back down and you look up to smile at his worried eyes again, only to be met with the tiny gaze of bright hazel eyes.
The little girl can't be more than five months old as she shifts slightly in her uncle's arms, all the while staring at you in wonder. You can't bring yourself to look away as you feel the pieces of your heart divide into even smaller pieces. A tiny fist reaches out and you hesitate, for quite a long time apparently, as Mercedes gives you a small nudge, and you reach out your hand to grab the girls. Her skin is so soft and so pale, the difference between your skin colors so pronounced and you can't help but think of what might have been had she been yours. Her skin would have been darker, just slightly, but enough to make a difference. Her eyes might have been a darker brown instead of the hazel they appear to be, but you find yourself glad that she had inherited them as you look at her.
This is the first time you have seen those eyes in person in ten years.
Of course, it isn't the same since they aren't staring back at you from his face, but it doesn't really matter to you much because they sparkle just the same as she smiles brightly, letting out a tiny giggle as her uncle tickles her tummy. Your heart feels heavy as you manage to return a small laugh, Kurt's eyes looking at you in concern.
"She's beautiful," you manage to whisper and you are surprised at the slight hitch in your voice. Your friend nods and leans closer, shifting the infant in his arms slightly. The chubby hand wrapped around your finger tightens, as if desperate to hold onto you, as untrue as it sounds in your head.
"Rain," Kurt says and you frown at him as he clarifies, "Her name is Rain. I didn't know if you knew that."
You shake your head, but you can't keep the snort from coming out of your nose. Drizzle may never have come to light, but it seems as if the spirit of the young boy who once marveled at the phenomenon of precipitation has lived on into the man he has become.
"Rain Barbra Hudson," Kurt continues, cooing at the infant in his arms, "What a beautiful name for such a beautiful baby girl!"
It feels like a bucket of cold ice has been dumped on your head and you can't fight it this time when a thick tear escapes to run down your cheek. Rain lets out a tiny giggle at your face and you manage to smile back, giving the little girl your first genuine smile of the day. You grin at each other, even through the tears that have started freely pouring down your face. You can feel eyes on you as you turn and meet his stare. He is still sitting in his seat two tables down, but his wife's seat is vacant and he seems only focused on you.
You stare at each other for what feels like years.
"Thank you," you finally mouth to him and he turns a bright shade of red, the smile on his face bright and focused on you for the first time in years. You expect him to ask what for, but his new found maturity surprises you when his smile gets even wider and his lips mouth words back to you that somehow seem to stitch back the broken pieces of your heart together. The guilt you have been living with for ten years fades with a dull roar.
"Thank you for letting me go."
You aren't okay, not even by a long shot, but you feel more at peace than you have in a long time and you know you owe it all to the man sitting across the room. You owe it all to the little girl smiling at up at you, your name a permanent part of her identity, as if somehow through her, what you and he had will live on forever, even when you are both long gone and buried, your tomb stones too old to be read by anyone who tries.
RachelandFinn would be remembered, he had made sure of it. For the first time in years, you are at peace with the hasty decision you had made to let him go. To let him live out his destiny, to let him live a life that you couldn't fit into. He has.
And so have you.
And as that little girl grows up and the ten years turn into twenty, then thirty, then forty, the memory of what you and he cherished would remain. His footprints would remain in your life forever, and yours would be with him, until the day of his final breath, and the day of his daughters.
You can't fight fate, you have learned, but maybe fate doesn't mean to be cruel. You have played your part in his life and it's time to let go. You let go of the baby's hand and stand, eyes meeting his one last time and you smile. He smiles back and you're forgiven. Just like that.
You walk out of the reception hall alone, but for the first time in a long time you feel free of regret and longing.
so much of me
is made of what I learned from you
you'll be with me
like a handprint on my heart
and because i knew you
i have been changed for good